Philip's Mark Foley returns from National Guard military police duty in Afghanistan

Safely back home ... Mark Foley, National Guard staff sergeant in the 235th Military Police Company based out of Custer, returned from his deployment in Afghanistan. Among the many family and friends welcoming him safely home were his fiancee, Vanessa Anderson. Right: as Mark Foley neared his hometown of Philip, he was met by friends and neighbors. Vehicles from the Philip Volunteer Fire Department, Philip Ambulance Service, local law enforcement, many businesses and other friends joined the caravan. A West Central Electric Co-op boom raised the United States flag for the National Guardsman returning from Afghanistan.

"Like a bad headache, I'm coming back," joked Mark Foley before he left, and he gave the same joke after he returned to Philip from his duty in Afghanistan.

Haakon County Deputy Sheriff Foley was one of the National Guard soldiers from Custer's 235th Military Police Company who received mobilization orders Tuesday, June 20, 2006. They were mobilized in October 2006 to train for two to six months at Fort Bliss, TX, prior to deployment to Afghanistan.

National Guard Staff Sergeant Foley said that his unit had to report at Ft. Bliss before October 17th, though some members such as himself were on active duty status as early as October 9th for refresher courses in medical training. The group provided military police support in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Foley has had approximately six years of Army background and has been in the National Guard since January of 1997.

On Thursday, January 17th, 2008, Foley's unit returned as far as Rapid City. Family and friends welcomed home the 130 members of the 235th Military Police Company, who had been away from home for 427 days.

On Friday, January 18th, Foley returned to Philip. A caravan of family and friends met him west of town to escort him to the Philip Ambulance Service building for a welcome home celebration. Foley's parents, Tom and Ann, were at the head of the line to give him hugs and handshakes. His fiancee, Vanessa Anderson, was also right up front. Foley had proposed while on leave several months ago and they are planning a July wedding.

Foley will be back to work at the Haakon County Sheriff's office early in March. "Its good that he is back and back safe," said Sheriff Larry Hanes. " It'll be good to have him back to work."

The 235th MP Company is composed of about 150 members from a large area of western South Dakota, especially the Black Hills, and it generally meets in Rapid City. The group had previously been deployed to Fort Carson, CO, in February of 2003 for 12 months for military police support.

Governor Mike Rounds said the unit is dependable. "The 235th MP Company has a proven record of performance. Whether it is a fire, flood or national call-up, the soldiers are always ready." The company's duties included security, infantry work and traffic control, duties similar to normal police or law enforcement.

From 2001 and up to when Foley was deployed, the South Dakota National Guard had mobilized about 2,800 soldiers and 750 airmen in support of the war. While Foley was on active duty status, there were 185 South Dakota National Guard soldiers and airmen in Iraq and Afghanistan.